b. 1858 Lochmaben, Dumfrieshire, Scotland. d. 4th Q 1926 Whitehaven, Cumberland.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Wellington Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumberland.
James was born in Lochmaben, Dumfrieshire, probably in 1858, but some sources state possibly 1856. He married Margaret c. 1876 and they moved south to Whitehaven, Cumberland, where he became a Colliery Under Manager at the Wellington Pit. They had eight children, and having lived in the Preston Quarter of Whitehaven, they later lived at 2 Harbour View. Little is known about his life following the award of the Edward Medal. All that is known is that he died in Whitehaven, aged 68 in 1926.
On the 11th May, 1910, a terrible fire occurred in the Wellington Pit, Whitehaven, at a point about 4,500 yards from the shafts. Various rescue parties, with great courage and self-devotion and at considerable risk, descended the mine and endeavoured to extinguish the fire and penetrate to the persons in the workings beyond the same. Thorne and Littlewood, fitted with breathing apparatus, reached within a distance of 150 yards of the fire, but were driven back by the great heat and effusion of gases. The others got to within about 300 yards of the fire, working in the smoke backing from the fire. It was found impossible to penetrate to the scene of the fire or to rescue any of the entombed miners.
Had an explosion occurred — a by no means unlikely eventuality, seeing that the mine is a very gassy one — they would undoubtedly all have been killed.
Special gallantry was shown by John Henry Thorne, to whom the Edward Medal of the First Class has already been awarded, and by James Littlewood.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.
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